Health & Science

German Minister of Health wants to eliminate nurses’ night shifts

The federal minister of Health of Germany wants to relieve the burden of nurses by eliminating their night shifts in what he refers to as the “biggest hospital reform in 20 years”.

Federal minister of Health of Germany Karl Lauterbach on ZDF
Federal minister of Health of Germany Karl Lauterbach on ZDF | © ZDF, October 18, 2022

The federal minister of Health of Germany Karl Lauterbach is planning a reform for the hospital sector to work more efficiently.

The politician from the Social Democratic Party (SPD) on October 18 on ZDF said it was “the biggest hospital reform in the past 20 years”.

Approved by the federal government in mid-September, the draft of the Hospital Care Relief Act aims at providing more adequate staffing of healthcare facilities with nurses.

The bill comes after months of tensions in the healthcare sector with the COVID-19 pandemic and staff shortage. Moreover, hospitals now need to face raising energy costs while cases of COVID-19 infections and deaths are increasing in the country.

Mr. Lauterbach explained a month ago that “nursing staff is extremely stressed employees. Only those who pay them well, compensate for overtime, and have their wards well staffed will keep nursing staff on the labor market or recruit new ones.”

The minister detailed that one of the ways is to eliminate night shifts for nurses. “We don’t have too few nurses compared to the population, the minister argued, we use them very inefficiently.”

As such, as many treatments as possible should be made during the day. Moreover, many more could be made without staying in hospitals. It would reduce the need for staff in healthcare facilities at night and the intensity of nurses’ shifts during the day.

To do so, a personnel assessment instrument will be tested in some facilities starting January 2023 in order to find the ideal staffing requirements for each service.

He also considers that the system of fee-for-service should be reviewed because it encourages hospitals to treat as many patients as possible cheaply.

The draft law also includes provisions to simplify budget approvals and digitize some administrative work.

Read more about Germany

Adequate staffing of hospitals, Federal Ministry of Health of Germany, September 2022

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